Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Greatness abandoned Prague long time ago… the best team during 1974-75 was small Bohemians, ending third behind both Bratislava clubs – Slovan and Inter. Once upon a time mighty Dukla was 9th in the final table; the ‘eternal sufferers’ Slavia – 6th; and the shame of all shame – the old venerated Sparta finished next to last and was relegated to the Second Division. Sparta won the Czech Cup (Czechoslovakia, a federal state, run two separate cup competitions – Czech and Slovak. The winners competed for the Czechoslovakian Cup), but lost both legs of the big final against Spartak (Trnava). In the championship they finished with the same points with lowly TZ Trinec, but having worse goal difference, they went down and Trinec survived. Dark days for the popular club, yet even this was not the end of Czech humiliation: the top Second Division clubs, promoted for the next season were both Slovak: Lokomotiva (Kosice) and Jednota (Trencin).
Returning to First Division and hoping to stay: Second row, left to right: Jan Tvaroska, Ivan Stano, Miroslav Catar, Lubomir Anina, Emil Jankech, Jozef Holly, Jan Babuliak, Viktor Stefanech, Milos Lintner, Vincent Nemcek – captain, Rudolf Holcinger, Jozef Cechvala, Jaroslav Elsik.
Sitting: Jaroslav Machac, Vladimir Mojzis, Richard Minarech, Miroslav Brezovsky, Stefan Hojsik – assistant coach, Stefan Cambal – coach, Pavol Demitra, Vojtech Masny, Emanual Mihalek, Michal Biro.
Sitting, left to right: Zitnar, Kohoutek, Kolenic, Seman, Gaspar, Flesar, Jozsa, Cernicky, Sefcik.
Second row: Mantic, Repcak, Boros, Kozak, Urban, Farkas, Suchanek, Pencak, Jacko, Moder.
Both clubs had checkered history, with some occasional strong years, but most often going up and down between First and Second Division. This year was just another return to top league football and, as usually Second Division clubs go, Jednota had no players to boast about. Lokomotiva was another story: Jozef Moder played for the national team and was to become European Champion in 1976. Jan Kozak was also to be included in the national team soon – he earned his first cap in 1976. And goalkeeper Stanislav Seman was glory bound – he became Olympic champion in 1980. The ‘railways workers’ club had something else as well – one of the most modern stadiums in Czechoslovakia by 1975. Now, that was - and is - something extremely unusual for Second Division club of any country.